Mysterious radio-telescope signals caused by microwave ovens


Astronomical calculations now have to factor in the “Hot Pocket” variable.

“That wasn’t a pulsar, that was extra cheese.”


Mohammad Danish Khan (2014), “Perytons and their Possible Sources” (in German), Astrophysics. Solar and Stellar Astrophysics, arXiv:1404.5080v1
J. I. Katz (2014), “What Perytons Aren’t, and Might Be” (in German), Astrophysics. Solar and Stellar Astrophysics, arXiv:1403.0637v1
S. R. Kulkarni, E. O. Ofek, J. D. Neill, Z. Zheng, M. Juric (2014), “Giant Sparks at Cosmological Distances?” (in German), Astrophysics. Solar and Stellar Astrophysics, arXiv:1402.4766v1
Pascal Saint-Hilaire, Arnold O. Benz, Christian Monstein (2014), “Short-duration Radio Bursts with Apparent Extragalactic Dispersion” (in German), Astrophysics. Solar and Stellar Astrophysics, arXiv:1402.0664v1
Manjari Bagchi, Angela Cortes Nieves, Maura McLaughlin (2012), “A search for dispersed radio bursts in archival Parkes Multibeam Pulsar Survey data” (in German), Astrophysics. Solar and Stellar Astrophysics, arXiv:1207.2992v2

I really wish we could all raise enough money to replace the microwaves with new ones and then send it to them in a check labelled, “The BoingBoing Peryton Research Grant.” Maybe a logo with the Latin phrase, “Per ventrum ad astra.”

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So Ceres is just a great big microwave oven?

This is great news. It means we’ll be able to detect any aliens with microwave oven technology!

You mean “impatient aliens with antiquated microwave oven technology.” Of course, by the time we receive the signals, they will have surpassed us in their ability to melt cheese.

Boing Boing last reported the same story in early April:

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That’d be an excellent motto of a NASA catering company.

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Sadly, some spoil-sport rectified the Whackyweedia entry on “perytons” a few years ago… but originally it was a wonderfully credulous entry which accepted Borges’ invention of a stag / bird chimera as if it were a genuine tradition from classical mythology.

Kind of off topic, but anyone else view “The Dish”? It wasn’t until halfway through the movie that I realized the actors (yes, even Sam Neill) were saying P-A-R-K-E-S, not Pax.

Heh, I just had something similar happen to me. I was using my oscilloscope and before I started probing my circuit I had some unshielded wires hooked up to the target. On the scope I was getting a 200mV (basically small, but not insignificant) dampened pulse (it looks like a sine wave that fades out) that was several MHz for the ringing and it repeated about every 11 microseconds. Tried shielding the wires moving them around, looking for sources of RF interference, thinking the dangly wires I was using were acting like an antenna. Couldn’t find it that way, so I unplugged the board I was testing (it was hooked up to power and a USB hub). Still nothing. Then turned things off one by one (power switch/button), still nothing. Finally got to unplugging everything, and unplugged my monitor. The ping disappears. I’m not sure how this was being induced, as I couldn’t seem to rid it by shielding or unplugging the devices; and it was still making the noise when the monitor was soft-off (so it’s not the LED controller or anything like that). Just yet another annoying noise source to watch out for. They are everywhere.

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Sounds to me like a switching power supply. Would putting chokes and some low-capacity (nF) caps parallel to the high value input and output ones (as the electrolytics have high inductance so they are poor for filtering out the high frequencies) help?

11 usec is about 91 kHz, which is in the ballpark for switching power supplies.

And yes, this crap is EVERYWHERE. It is almost as bad as the 50 Hz hum.

What I find weird about this story is… I spent a week at Parkes a few years ago, working with a few astronomers (who now work in the same team as Emily Petroff - she wasn’t a student there at the time) in installing new computers in the server room that sits under the dish. I remember the old microwave oven in the ground-floor kitchen, and I remember specifically being told to always let the observer in charge know before I used it because of interference. I would have expected someone to have noticed the “coincidence” earlier…

I bet these impatient astronomers didn’t press Reset on the timer after interrupting the countdown either, so anyone who later glances at the oven to see what time it is momentarily confused:
   “Wha? It’s six past midnight already? And when did this thing start displaying 24-hour time anywa— Ohhh.” (Annoyedly presses Reset button.)

I hate that, and for some reason never get used to it.

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